Early Voting Down in Florida

By Tim Leljedal
6:13pm, August 30, 2006

Between Tropical Storm Ernesto and campaigns that just don’t seem to be motivating voters, turnout has been even lower than expected in many counties.

Voter Kathy Driver will be on vacation next week, so she was glad she was able to take advantage of Florida’s early voting option, and her county supervisor’s office made it even easier.

Kathy Driver shared, "Yes, very convenient because they’re paying for parking, so it’s very convenient."

But even with the parking perks, the crowds at the polls have been small in many counties over the last week and a half of early voting. Four south Florida counties suspended early voting because of the storm. Even so, Secretary of State Sue Cobb admitted during a storm briefing that the low turnout she anticipated is so far even worse.

"Well, the turnout has been a little lower than we expected, certainly lower than we would desire. That’s absolutely true," Cobb said.

Ernesto can’t take all the blame. Primaries typically bring out fewer voters, and the campaigns themselves may also have something to do with it. Political pollster Peter Brown says his researchers have had a tough time finding likely voters.

"This is not an election that has grabbed the Florida electorate by the throat," he said.

But there is still time. Early voting runs through Saturday, with some counties also open Sunday.